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Colombia: Duque sued for allegedly trying to influence elections

by Adriaan Alsema 

Duque reportedly interfered in election debates at least 30 times since February

Colombia’s opposition and anti-corruption advocates have sued President Ivan Duque for allegedly trying to influence the May 29 presidential election.

Senator Ivan Cepeda said last week that he would sue the president and seven mayors for abusing their position for electoral purposes.

Cepeda is a member of opposition candidate Gustavo Petro’s “Historic Pact” coalition.

The Anticorruption Institute, a non-government organization, said Monday that it sued before the Cundinamarca Administrative Tribunal for his allegedly illegal participation in electoral politics.

Cepeda and the Anticorruption Institute have claimed that Duque has abused his position to interfere in the electoral process.

"The president… through social networks, in public speeches and in statements to the media has tried to influence the decision of the citizens in the current electoral process." Anticorruption Institute

According to political news website La Silla Vacia, the president referred to issues raised by candidates in 30 of his 95 speeches over the past six weeks.

Cepeda accused Duque of trying to frustrate Petro’s candidacy, who is leading in the polls.

On multiple occasions, Duque has used his speeches to warn for “the three P’s, populism, post-truth and polarization.”

Petro allies have been claiming things as “P stands for peace” as part of their promotion of the opposition candidate for months.

Colombia’s Guarantees Law prohibits that the president:

  1. Attends acts of inauguration of public works.
  2. Personally delivers state resources or goods, or any other sum of money coming from the public treasury or product of donations from third parties to the National Government.
  3. Refers to other candidates or political movements in his public speeches or presentations, as Head of State or government, except in situations that refer to matters of national security, security of candidates or their political campaigns, sovereignty, emergencies or disasters.
  4. Uses or includes the image, symbols or slogans of his presidential campaign in government advertising.
  5. Uses State assets, other than those related to his functions and those destined to his personal security, in activities of his presidential campaign.

Cepeda decided to sue the president and the mayor after Duque and presidential candidate Federico Gutierrez appeared at a congress of the National Federation of Municipalities earlier this month.

During this event, one mayor was filmed while offering to buy votes for Gutierrez.

Political analyst Daniel Mejia told La Silla Vacia that “Duque is practically campaigning for Petro.”

Mejia referred to the fact that Petro’s support in the polls continued to grow despite or because of the president’s apparent refusal to obey the law.